Local papermaking dominated by recovered fibre in 2022-23

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In a trend that is set to continue, 2022-23 saw Australia’s use of recovered paper account for almost 53% of all fibre used to manufacture paper and paperboard, including tissue products.

The record recovered paper proportion was the third highest volume of recovered paper ever used, account for a 1.737 million tonnes, just 0.043 million tonnes less than the all-time record.

Total fibre use was calculated at 3.294 million tonnes, almost exactly the same as a decade ago when recovered paper accounted for a fraction more than half all fibre used.

Although uninspiring, the decadal chart below shows the very fine balance between virgin pulp and recovered fibre that operates in most years. Because pulp is produced and consumed locally and imported – subscribers can log in and download the pulp import data or read each month’s Pulp Market Briefing – there are inventories involved that cannot be reflected in this annualised summary. That underscores the reason for providing the longitudinal data as it ‘washes through’ any inventory effects.

Consumption of Virgin Pulp & Utilisation of Recovered Paper: 2013 – 2023 (ktpa)

Source: ABS, company reports and IndustryEdge research and estimates


As a result of the cessation of copy and other uncoated woodfree office papers in Australia, we can anticipate the balance of fibre use will shift even more over the coming years. A simple analysis suggests to IndustryEdge that recovered fibre will constitute at least 55% of total fibre use in the current financial year.

On the virgin fibre front, as the second chart and table show, the dominant pulp grade is now Bleached Hardwood Kraft (mainly Eucalypt). Almost all this pulp is deployed to manufacture tissue and as it is significantly cheaper than its softwood counterpart, seems to be winning solid market share.

Australian Imports of Pulp by Grade: 2013 – 2023 (ktpa)

Source: ABS and IndustryEdge


One factor that ought not go unnoticed is that despite the rising tide for recovered paper, virgin fibre pulp imports hit a record in 2022-23 at 0.336 million tonnes.


This is an edited extract of an item first published in the October 2023 (Edition 220) edition of Pulp & Paper Edge. To learn more about Pulp & Paper Edge, click here.

To learn more about the 2023 Pulp & Paper Strategic Reviews, click here.

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